Jump to content


Photo

Shadowboxer on DVD


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 12 November 2006 - 03:44 AM

That indie movie I shot in Philadelphia in 2004 finally came out on DVD. It's one of the more stylized movies I've ever shot, sort of a film noir shot in the style of a Wong Kar Wei / Chris Doyle movie in terms of color design. The transfer / D.I. was brighter than I wanted (the director thought I was making the movie too dark) and the DVD is even a little brighter for some reason. We shot in 35mm anamorphic (Panavision Primo lenses) using Fuji stock mostly, a little Kodak). I grabbed some frames here:

This was a flashback image, shot on Ektachrome 100D (5285), cross-processed, using a 90mm slant-focus anamorphic lens & 1/4 ProMist filter:
Posted Image

This was an early day interior (Fuji F-250D) showing the grey color scheme with a hint of red (associated with Helen Mirrem's character):
Posted Image

An early scene in a bar (Kodak 5218 pushed one-stop)
Posted Image

Hotel scenes where the color schemes moved from cyan to reds as the story went on (Fuji F-500T):
Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

A key scene in the woods, shot with the 90mm slant-focus lens, 1/4 ProMist filter (Fuji F-250D), the colors pushed digitally:
Posted Image
  • 0

#2 Allen Achterberg

Allen Achterberg
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 437 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Santa Maria CA

Posted 12 November 2006 - 04:17 AM

I actually grabbed that the other day and saw it. I really really enjoyed it! The scene at the bottom with the digitally pushed colors threw me off, didn't see it coming so not only was it visually interesting, but the story was damn good too.

Simply inspirational David,

Thank you for the tech info as well.

All The Best,
Allen Achterberg
  • 0

#3 Tim Partridge

Tim Partridge
  • Guests

Posted 12 November 2006 - 08:06 AM

David,

From what I recall, you said this went through a DI- was there any real tinkering to isolate the colours, or is it just pure photography and production/costume design?

I saw a sequence recently with Stephen Dorff having sex in a nightclub (with a gun)! It was very much Storaro in unsubtle, "colour-code" mode.
  • 0

#4 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 12 November 2006 - 11:20 AM

Most of the colors were in the production design -- mainly I ended up increasing the saturation over what the normal look was of the Fuji stocks, partially because our DVD dailies were a little over-saturated and the director fell in love with that look. On a few scenes, I did isolate a color and enhance it further.

The bar we found for the opening was called the "Bleu Martini" and was naturally lit with blue neon practicals.

That scene with Stephen Dorff was set in the back room of that bar but at a different location in reality, so I lit it partially with Kino bluescreen tubes (hence the super blue colors) to visually tie that location with the other location. Yes, it's a bit over-the-top, color-wise -- the Kino bluescreen tubes are pretty intense, more on film than they looked to my eye on the set. I was stealing the idea from "Armageddon" actually, where some of the space shuttle scenes were lit with Kino blue and greenscreen tubes. Also, the original scene at the blue neon bar was cut way down, making the need to tie the lighting to the other location less important probably.

For the cyan-colored hotel, for example, I wrapped Cool White tubes with Cyan gel for the exterior (I had art department put fluorescent fixture down the length of the exterior hallway.) The walls were painted cyan, the bedsheets were cyan, etc. So I didn't really do much with the D.I.

Here is more of an example where I used Power Windows in the DaVinci to manipulate the image:
Posted Image

We had a hard time creating all four seasons during the shoot (we shot in the spring) -- for some fall scenes, we had a few fall-colored leaves on a branch stuck on a c-stand arm out the window, but I was able to tint the green woods in the background a little more yellow to create more of a fall feeling.

Some colors were oversaturated so that they would stand out better for the film-out -- but looking at the DVD, it looks like they never went back and did a pass on the color timing for home video specs, but just took our HDCAM-SR master timed using a DLP projector, put it through a standard LUT for linear video, and dumped that to DVD, because now it looks a little off to me - blue skies, for example, are oversaturated.
  • 0

#5 Max Jacoby

Max Jacoby
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2955 posts
  • Other

Posted 12 November 2006 - 12:18 PM

David

There is barrel distortion on some of these shots, was that the 35mm and 40mm Primo lenses?
  • 0

#6 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 12 November 2006 - 01:02 PM

David

There is barrel distortion on some of these shots, was that the 35mm and 40mm Primo lenses?


Yes.
  • 0

#7 Tim Partridge

Tim Partridge
  • Guests

Posted 12 November 2006 - 05:04 PM

I was stealing the idea from "Armageddon" actually, where some of the space shuttle scenes were lit with Kino blue and greenscreen tubes.


So you were citing Shwartzman citing Jeffrey Kimball who was citing Storaro. ;)

Beautiful work all the same. In your opinion, would you call the film's strong visual stylisation the design of the director of this project? It seems too much of a coincidence that both the cinematographer and prod designer would be so mutually inspired otherwise, especially given how ordinary and mundane the actual locations and settings are.

Also, you mentioned the blue bar was naturally lit that way- given you were shooting anamorphic (even if it's 500asa pushed one stop), did you enhance what was there with bigger lighting units? When was this decided in production and who by?

Many many thanks
  • 0

#8 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 12 November 2006 - 11:09 PM

We looked at many bars in Philly and this one lit with blue neon was the only one that appealed to me visually, plus I could justify the blue look for this early scene (although we drifted from that concept.) The bar was so interestingly-lit naturally that I didn't want to kill it by overlighting it, hence I used 5218 pushed one-stop at T/2.8, and just added some blue-gelled Kino daylight tubes under the counters and a few mini-tungsten spots to augment the exposure to something workable without changing the character of the space.

But the location was expensive and the production designer, Steve Saklad, and I had to push heavily for it. We got along great on this film. The director wanted a bold look, partly inspired by a DVD copy of "In the Mood for Love" that I showed him that he loved, but the prep was so chaotic that many times, Steve and I would do the location scouting (with the locations person) and try and find something we liked before we brought it to the director, to save him having to scout all the time with us. But this project was one of the best for me in terms of working with a production designer, this and when I worked with Clark Hunter on "Astronaut Farmer".

Probably left on our own, Steve and I might have gone for a little more subtlety in the pallette, but the director really wanted some strong color effects so we just embraced that approach.

The only other scene where I used 5218, again pushed one-stop, was a hotel room scene in a skyscraper, shot at T/2.0 to get the city lights to read. This was before Fuji Eterna 500T came out and I didn't want to push the old F-500T. You can see the lights in the background here, and how shallow the focus gets:

Posted Image
  • 0

#9 Allen Achterberg

Allen Achterberg
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 437 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Santa Maria CA

Posted 12 November 2006 - 11:22 PM

David,

I wanted to ask you, in I believe the 2nd scene of the move, where we first see Cuba Gooding JR and Helen Mirren, there is a shot where she is leaning forward, and he is relaxing on the couch rather distanced form her, It looks as if you used a Diopter. Is this the case?


Thanks,
Allen Achterberg
  • 0

#10 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 November 2006 - 12:10 AM

David,

I wanted to ask you, in I believe the 2nd scene of the move, where we first see Cuba Gooding JR and Helen Mirren, there is a shot where she is leaning forward, and he is relaxing on the couch rather distanced form her, It looks as if you used a Diopter. Is this the case?
Thanks,
Allen Achterberg


I used the 90mm anamorphic slant-focus lens (basically the 45mm spherical slant-focus lens converted to anamorphic) to try and hold both of them in-focus.

Posted Image

I wasn't trying to be fancy here -- it was just one of those shots where the actors played it this way and I didn't want to rack back & forth on each person's line of dialogue, nor let one face be out of focus throughout. Sometimes in scope framing, the whole point is to see more in the frame so you get into these split-focus issues.
  • 0

#11 Allen Achterberg

Allen Achterberg
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 437 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Santa Maria CA

Posted 13 November 2006 - 01:07 AM

Got it, Awesome David Really appreciate the info.

All The Best!
  • 0

#12 Tim Partridge

Tim Partridge
  • Guests

Posted 13 November 2006 - 05:48 PM

Many thanks David.

BTW- is that an Unsworth style hard frontal key on Miss Mirren? :) I love it.
  • 0

#13 gustavius smith

gustavius smith
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 58 posts
  • Director

Posted 14 November 2006 - 04:55 PM

I once met the director /producer of this movie at a film festival he is a very interesting guy must have been an experience working with him. What do you like or dislike about shooting Ektachrome 100D (5285). Why did you choose to use reversal stock. I thought that it was a daylight only stock. Thanks

Gustavius Smith
NYNY
  • 0

#14 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 15 November 2006 - 03:16 AM

At the time, I was told that there was no budget for a D.I. so I decided to create a look for the flashbacks using cross-processed 35mm reversal. Not many choices anyway, so I used E100D. It worked great, just had to deal with the tremendously high contrast, plus lighting night interiors for 100 ASA.
  • 0

#15 gustavius smith

gustavius smith
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 58 posts
  • Director

Posted 15 November 2006 - 08:06 AM

If it is not too much trouble could you please post more fram grabs of the reversal stock.

Gustavius Smith
NYNY
  • 0

#16 Shane Bartlett

Shane Bartlett
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 58 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Nashville

Posted 15 November 2006 - 08:32 AM

David--everything looks beautiful. Thank you for sharing technical information for these.

I, too, would like to hear more about the reversal stock. Next year, I will be shooting a short on 16mm, and I was hoping to shoot some of the project on reversal. The first grab you posted is quite close to the look I was hoping to achieve. How exactly do you deal with the contrast, especially when working in a low-lit indoor scene under tungsten lighting?

Which leads to a question I was going to post elsewhere. I was hoping to find out the answers to these questions, and others, by shooting tests on an slr stock. Is 35mm slr Ektachrome at all comparable in response to motion reversal 16mm stock? Better yet, is any 35mm slr stock going to give me a reliable visual idea of how a 16mm motion stock will perform under certain lighting conditions?
  • 0

#17 Rory Hanrahan

Rory Hanrahan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • NYC

Posted 15 November 2006 - 10:03 AM

I remember when this production rolled thru a couple of years ago. The film is a great visual representation of Philly. You brought out a lot of the city's character that many other films shot here had missed.
  • 0

#18 John Allardice

John Allardice
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 68 posts
  • Director
  • Los Angeles

Posted 18 November 2006 - 03:25 AM

Just saw it, loved the look, a nice semi-emulation of Chris Doyle, without following the style slavishly.
Also liked the 'avengers/prisoner' touch you brought to the scenes with their agent, there was definitely a slightly retro-thing going on there with the framing.
Loved the love scene in the woods in the latter 1/3rd of the movie....it just screamed Alex Thompson at me.....dunno if that was intentional or not.
Dont want to make it sound as if you were just copying others work. I really liked the style, wouldn't neccesarrily say it was a perfect fit for that story, but that's more the directors choice than yours.
Were you happy with the DI? it seemed a little soft, but not sure if that was an aspect of the DVD transfer or not.

Edited by John Allardice, 18 November 2006 - 03:25 AM.

  • 0

#19 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 18 November 2006 - 11:01 AM

The movie was transferred on a Spirit to HDCAM-SR for the D.I., so while the HD resolution softened the image for the 35mm print version, the home video version shouldn't be softer-than-normal. I did use ProMist diffusion for some scenes, and the Fuji stocks add a certain softness.

I did feel that the movie was timed too bright for my tastes and then the DVD now looks even brighter for some reason (probably because it was timed for DLP projection and not re-adjusted for a final video release.)

Maybe this is not a good thing, but over the years, I've sort of fallen into the camp that a feature-length movie shouldn't get too consistent in the look, that it needs some variation in approach (especially in lighting) in order to not get repetitive unless it's something like "Northfork" where the same mood is supposed to dominate everything. I try and break down a script into sort of themes, mini-arcs, etc. to plot some changes in look that match the mood of the scene -- some scenes may be more noir-ish or need glamour, others more realism, some more tableau, some more active and subjective, etc.
  • 0

#20 Matthew Bennett

Matthew Bennett
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 38 posts
  • Director

Posted 27 December 2006 - 12:12 AM

Wow! I saw this last night, violent, beautiful and interesting film..

So many great color compositions, a constant pleasure to look at. It was shot in Philidelphia? It seemed like something a Manga artist would imagine not the 'gritty ol' united states.
I really felt the visuals lifted the violence out of the gutter.. I was trying to figure out what motivated such intensity... then I settled on the fact that Helen Mirren's character was dying and had sort of re-discovered life so maybe it was all her perception coloring the film (just my interpretation)

This is great work.. something to aspire to on all creative fronts.
  • 0


rebotnix Technologies

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

CineTape

Willys Widgets

Opal

Paralinx LLC

Glidecam

Technodolly

Ritter Battery

The Slider

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Wooden Camera

Abel Cine

CineLab

Tai Audio

Rig Wheels Passport

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

Abel Cine

Technodolly

Wooden Camera

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

The Slider

FJS International, LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Tai Audio

CineTape

Visual Products

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post

Opal

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC